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Black Activists - Josephine Baker

Updated on February 5, 2012

"… the most sensational woman anyone ever saw." – Ernest Hemingway speaking about Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was born June 3, 1906 in St Louis,Missouriand died April 12, 1975 in Paris,France. Josephine Baker is best known for her dancing and her famous banana costume but she had many other talents. Josephine Baker was considered a muse for many; authors, artists, men and women of all types. Baker did not feel comfortable living in the United States and having to deal with racism on a daily basis so she moved toParis,France.


Josephine Baker was a school drop out and a street child. While living on the streets Baker would make money dancing on street corners where she would later be discovered. At a very young age Josephine Baker started dancing in aSt Louisdance group. Then Baker would move toNew Yorkand perform atHarlem’s famous Cotton Club. In the 1920s Baker moved toParis,Franceto live and perform. At one point Baker returned to theUnited Statesfor a short time and was a member of the Ziegfield Follies.


Josephine Baker was a true performer not only was she a dancer but she sang and acted too. Baker was a triple threat being able to sing, dance and act and her performances were well received with accolades, awards and standing ovations. Audiences were blown away talents and delivery. From her exotic dances to her sexy singing Baker gave a complete performance.


Josephine Baker worked with several civil rights organizations and was also the only woman to speak at the March on Washington in 1963. Baker struggled early on in her life with racism and discrimination and wanted to find equality and peace in the world. Baker moved to France so that she did not have to deal with the inequalities she had come to know in the United States. "Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than the skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one's soul; when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood."Baker did not have children of her own but did have adopted children that were from all over the world to prove that children from different countries and nationalities could live together.

Josephine Baker was an extraordinary woman; a talented woman ahead of her time. Baker was more than just a dancer she was an entertainer. Baker wanted the world to be accepting of everyone. Josephine Baker was limited by racism so she chose to fight for equality as well as find a place of serenity for herself. Speaking on how she dealt with and felt about dealing with racism and inequality Baker said, “I did take the blows [of life], but I took them with my chin up, in dignity, because I so profoundly love and respect humanity.” Josephine Baker did have a great and wonderful respect and love of humanity and it showed in everything she did.


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    • DarylnCochrane profile image

      Darylen Cochrane 6 years ago from New York, NY

      Great. Let me know what you think of it.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Daryln - I am going to check the movie out! I have to now. Very curious.

    • DarylnCochrane profile image

      Darylen Cochrane 6 years ago from New York, NY

      Josephine Baker was definitely extraordinary in her time. She had a beautiful heart. You really should see the movie starring Lynn Whitfield. I think she did a great job portraying her and the story was told pretty accurately. Nice hub.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Junko for your comments. I wish it wouldn't take so many years to rid us of racism....seems like its been around way too long.

    • junko profile image

      junko 6 years ago

      Racism is and was a dehumanizing experience and rivals slavery's dehumanization. It may take as many or more years to get rid of racism as it took to get rid of slavery. I understand her move to France, racism is a product made in America to justified dehumanization and create Capitalism. Europe wasn't racist at that time.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Finance Hub! I will definitely check out your work too.

      J-Dove - From what I have read her children are doing well. I believe three of them own a restaurant in honor of their mother.

      pmc - She definitely was ahead of her time. An amazing person.

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

      Baker was so ahead of her time talent wise and humanity wise. Excellent hub, interesting subject matter. Voted up, marked useful, beautiful and interesting

    • JDove-Miller profile image

      JDove-Miller 6 years ago from YOUNGSVILLE

      Thanks for the reminder. Ms. Baker was a woman far ahead of the times. I wonder how her children have fared.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Ardie - Thank you very much. I love researching about these great people who really made an impact on the world.

      Hattie - I am actually getting the movie to watch it. Cannot believe I have not seen it yet.

      Nan - Throughout my research I have found that many people have stated that other countries were more liberal than the United States.

    • Nan Mynatt profile image

      Nan Mynatt 6 years ago from Illinois

      She was one of a kind. It's hard to imagine that France was more liberal that the United States. Excellent hub!

    • HattieMattieMae profile image

      HattieMattieMae 6 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

      I remember watching the movie. She was a brilliant and strong Woman! :)

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      What a strong, positive role model for girls all over the world :) I hadnt heard of this beauty before so Im glad to see a new face!! AAAAND I just realized you have an entire series on this topic. Yay me for more good reading.